The Benefits of a Dedicated User Researcher

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On the EY Intuitive team, we have a staff of eight dedicated researchers. Our clients are quick to realize the value our researchers bring to the table, even if some are initially uncertain of the need for a team member dedicated to user research. Small startups tend to combine roles—for example, a designer might also perform usability testing, as well as write code. Bigger firms tend to focus on competitive, market and marketing research, leaving out research with users.

On our team, a dedicated user researcher plays a critical role on all of our projects. Here are four reasons I believe having a dedicated researcher strengthens the performance of any UX or design team:

  • Background and training: Researchers have an academic and professional background designing and conducting studies. They are familiar with analyzing data and making design recommendations based on that data. Over time, user researchers have learned to speak the same language as their designer and developer colleagues. They are skilled at providing the “so what?” behind the data they collect.
  • Non-biased approach: Asking a designer to engage in research—particularly usability testing—is similar to asking a parent to judge their child. Sometimes a parent thinks their child can do no right, sometimes they think they can do no wrong. Very rarely is there a middle ground. A dedicated researcher can play the role of unbiased observer and reporter of facts. A researcher should not feel any incentive to put a positive or negative spin on what they find. He or she will make data-supported recommendations.
  • Effectively utilizes resources: Having a dedicated researcher lets everyone else on the team focus on their duties. Designers can design, developers can code. The researcher will work closely with these and all other team members to actively involve them in research activities and inform them of research findings. Researchers will uncover usability issues prior to investing large amounts of resources into designing and releasing a product. Clients will save both time and money when researchers identify (and the design and development teams subsequently address) usability issues in the fledgling stages of a project.
  • User research is not like other types of research: User research is different from competitive, market and marketing research—user research methods are used to uncover issues related to use and usability of a product, not whether there is a market for a product, how to sell that product, or how competitors are positioning themselves. Our researchers are experienced in converting findings from small sample sizes into meaningful design recommendations. Our user researchers work side-by-side with our designers, developers and engagement team members to effectively communicate our research findings into our designs.

Find out More

The EY Intuitive team has refined our approach to incorporating user research over the years. Our philosophy is that user-focused design should include data collected from current or potential users. You will find this is a seamless part of our design process. We actively work with our clients to educate them on the need and value for research. Please feel free to reach out to me, or any member of our research team, if you have questions about our process or would like more information on how you can work with our team.

 

Illustration by Kayla Velocci

The author

Image of Victor Yocco

Victor Yocco

Research Director